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Working Papers

folder Working Papers

This series reports research activities or interim findings and aim to share ideas and elicit feedback. Future Agricultures publishes approximately six to ten Working Papers per year.

We also support a series of LDPI Working Papers through our involvement in the Land Deal Politics Initiative.

Some of our Working Papers are also available in a French translation: see Documents de travail for a full list.



pdf A Chinese Pesticide Enterprise in Ghana: Motivations, Impacts, Challenges and Local Interactions

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 124
Yu Lerong, Lu Jixia, Henry Tugendhat and Li Xiaoyun
July 2015

This working paper explores the motivations, impacts, challenges and interactions of a successful Chinese pesticide enterprise in Ghana. In the context of much China-Africa literature focusing on state-backed Chinese business initiatives in Africa, this paper takes an ethnographic approach to explain the rise of a private sector Chinese agrochemicals company in Ghana. This is significant because of the frugal amount of literature that does cover Chinese migrant businesses in Africa, very few studies look at agricultural firms in particular. The main conclusion of this research is that the pushfactors from China’s domestic market and opportunities from Ghana’s agrochemicals market are important driving forces for Chinese pesticide enterprises to ‘go out’. Furthermore, diversified strategies are necessary to deal with local market environments based on business and social networks that intertwine formal and informal relations.

pdf Chinese Training Courses for African Agriculture: Transformational Knowledge? Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 122
Henry Tugendhat
July 2015

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has launched one of the largest training course programmes in the world as part of its international cooperation programme with Africa. In these training courses, China’s foremost universities, state bureaux, and private companies transfer their knowledge to 10,000 African government officials per year. The courses cover everything from the management of health epidemics to customs office administration, all drawing from China’s most recent socio-economic development experiences. In 2013, agriculture-related topics made up a significant 15 percent of total training courses, covering courses on both policy and technology.

There has been a strong narrative, from Chinese government officials and their African counterparts alike, that what is particularly appealing about China is that its agricultural sector has similarities with that of many African countries. They talk of China’s diversity of climates to match the many African environments, as well as China’s dependence on smallholder farming. The logical conclusion from such narratives would appear to be: what worked for China, must work for Africa. In this context, the MOFCOM training courses consist of one of the most direct forms of knowledge transfer from Chinese experts to African state leaders and policymakers. Many of the Chinese experts involved are not just qualified in the theory of what they teach, but have had first-hand experiences of effecting the change that brought about China’s own agricultural achievements.

As such, this paper seeks to understand how China’s agricultural training courses have affected agricultural practices in the African countries where they train. This looks at how the training courses work, how transferable this knowledge really is for African agricultural contexts, and finally, what these training courses really achieve in the broader context of China-Africa relations. Ghana and Zimbabwe are focused on as key case studies for this paper, and fieldwork was also conducted with training institutions and lecturers in China.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Jumping into the Sea: Chinese Migrants’ Engagement in Non-Traditional Agricultural Commodities in Ethiopia Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 121
Seth Cook and Dawit Alemu
July 2015

This paper explores the nature and extent of Chinese migrants’ involvement in the demand and supply of non-traditional agricultural commodities in Ethiopia, shares the perspectives of the different actors involved, and discusses the implications of this presence for Ethiopian development.

The focus here is not simply on the food and agriculture sector; the study also aims to shed light on the Chinese migrants involved in that sector. For instance, who are they and where do they come from in China? Why do they come to Ethiopia, and how do they end up in the food and agriculture sector? How do their business networks operate? What are their aspirations, and do they see Ethiopia as a permanent home?

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Pathways for irrigation development in Africa – insights from Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique (Summary) Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 119 (Summary version)
Naomi Oates, Guy Jobbins, Beatrice Mosello and John Arnold
June 2015

This paper summarises the findings of a rapid review to determine the policies and practices that have shaped irrigation performance over the last 50 years in three African countries: Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique.

The research combined a review of national (sector) level trends with short case studies of specific irrigation schemes. Evidence was drawn from the literature, supplemented by in-country key informant interviews and brief site visits. The review considers changes in policy and their drivers; linkages between policy, practice and performance; factors determining scheme performance; and key issues for future policymaking.

Full details can be found in the main working paper.

pdf Pathways for irrigation development in Africa – insights from Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 119
Naomi Oates, Guy Jobbins, Beatrice Mosello and John Arnold
June 2015

Irrigation has played an important role in agricultural modernisation around the world. In Africa, however, agricultural production has increased very slowly over the last fifty years, barely keeping pace with population growth. After a period of relative neglect, the international community is showing renewed interest in African irrigation as a means to tackle food insecurity, increasing water scarcity and climate change. Calls for increased investment present an opportunity to learn from past experiences in order to chart plausible pathways for future development.

This working paper reviews the policies and practices that have shaped irrigation development in Ethiopia, Morocco and Mozambique of the last fifty years. The research combines an analysis of sector trends with case studies of specific irrigation schemes, considering linkages between policy, practice and performance, drivers of change, and key issues for future policymaking.

A summary version of this paper is also available.

pdf Gender implications of agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane production in Kilombero District, Tanzania Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 118
Helen Dancer and Emmanuel Sulle
May 2015

Since the global food crisis of 2008 the Tanzanian government, amongst other African governments, has made food security through increases in agricultural productivity a policy priority. The emphasis in Tanzania is on commercialisation, with a particular focus on large-scale rice and sugarcane production. Gender equity within African agricultural production is a critical issue; yet limited empirical research exists on the gender implications of agricultural commercialisation now taking place in the region.

This paper presents findings from fieldwork conducted in Kilombero District of Tanzania in 2013 and 2014. The research takes the country’s largest sugar producer – Kilombero Sugar Company Ltd – as its focus and analyses the socio-economic implications of the commercialisation of sugarcane production from a gender perspective. The findings demonstrate the significance of gender relations in the development of commercial agricultural business models, local socio-economic development and land titling measures. They also illustrate the pressures and benefits for relationships and resource-sharing within households in the transition from food crops to sugarcane production.

pdf Agricultural growth in the New Alliance countries Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 108
Steve Wiggins, Sharada Keats and Jim Sumberg
April 2015

Rural Africa has changed considerably since the early 1990s. Demand for agricultural output is greater owing to higher world prices, economic growth, urbanisation and an enlarged urban middle class. Above all, governments and their development partners have revived their interest in agriculture during the 2000s. Concerted efforts are now underway to raise agricultural productivity and the rate of agricultural growth.

This prompts the two main questions addressed by this study. Is agriculture in Africa growing faster than in the past, and closer to the ambitious goal set in Maputo in 2003 of six percent growth per year? Equally important, is productivity in agriculture rising? Increased labour productivity will be critical for the transition of African countries from agrarian to urban economies. The focus here is on the countries that had by early 2014 joined the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.

pdf International Drivers of Brazilian Agricultural Cooperation in Africa in the Post-2008 Economic Crisis Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 117
Alcides Costa Vaz
March 2015

This text focuses on the major drivers of Brazilian agricultural cooperation in Africa as conceived and pursued from 2004 to 2014, with emphasis on the impacts of political and economic international changes that took place in that period, and particularly the impacts of the 2008 economic crisis, in framing Brazil’s foreign policy and development assistance initiatives. It addresses current international forces and developments at the systemic level, but also analyses recent economic domestic developments, in particular those directly related to Brazilian agriculture and those related to the policy framework of its evolving internationalisation. Special attention is paid to the dual dimensions of Brazilian agricultural policy and to its projection in agricultural cooperation as pursed in Africa.

pdf Perspectives on jobs and farming: Findings from a Q study with young people, parents and development workers in rural Ghana Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 109
James Sumberg, Thomas Yeboah, Justin Flynn and Nana Akua Anyidoho
April 2015

This paper presents the results of a series of Q Methodology studies with secondary students and parents at two sites in Ghana (Ashanti Region and Northern Region), and with development officials. The studies were informed by the argument that there is a significant risk of implementation failure when there is a clash of assumptions or world views among the parties associated with a policy process. Specifically the objective was to explore in a systematic way the perspectives of rural young people, their parents and development officials on a series of questions relating to work in general and agriculture in particular. Five specific research questions were addressed: What is a desirable job? What makes a job desirable? What explains young people’s attitude toward farming? Why should we be concerned about rural young people and farming? What should be done about rural young people and farming?

pdf Zimbabwe-Brazil cooperation through the More Food Africa Programme Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 116
Langton Mukwereza
March 2015

The expanding footprint of BRICS countries in Africa, especially over the last 15 years, has remained a subject of intense public interest in academic, development and diplomatic circles. There is some understandable trepidation among traditional donors towards the BRICS approach, and their focus remains on China.

Zimbabwe experienced intractable socio-economic development challenges from 2000 and the period 1998- 2008 has been referred to mildly as one of ‘political and economic crisis’. The European Union, which had hitherto been the largest development partner for Zimbabwe, suspended development cooperation with the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) and confirmed the fallout by imposing sanctions on specified state entities and members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANUPF). As Zimbabwe was actively courting investment from the East, Brazil was in its own way extending its tentacles across Africa in line with its increasing economic stature.

The GoZ has been in discussion with the Government of Brazil (GoB) for a major agricultural mechanisation cooperation programme since 2010, and the first batch of machinery and equipment was delivered between October 2014 and January 2015. The South American country is supplying tractors, tractor-drawn equipment and irrigation equipment under a concessionary loan agreement through the More Food Africa programme. The process to culminate in the supply of the equipment has been intractable and is yet to fully play out. Yet negotiations have been undertaken cordially and with mutual respect. This paper documents the negotiation process to date, situating it within the broad development encounters between Brazil and Africa, and in particular that BRICS country and Zimbabwe.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Situating Tian Ze’s role in reviving Zimbabwe’s Flue-Cured Tobacco sector in the wider discourse on Zimbabwe- China cooperation: Will the scorecard remain Win-Win? Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 115
Langton Mukwereza
February 2015

The milestone 1998 land reform conference convened by Zimbabwe and major donors ended in a stalemate on how the country was to proceed thereon. In the aftermath of that landmark event, Zimbabwe proceeded unilaterally in implementing a fairly radical land reform programme that saw land owned by almost all white large scale commercial farmers being redistributed among indigenous people.

The West proceeded in unison in imposing economic sanctions on the country and the economy experienced a major slump. Leveraging on strong political ties between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) that date back to Zimbabwe’s protracted liberation struggle, Zimbabwe succeeded in courting the Chinese as alternative development partners in a wide range of economic sectors. The two governments have framed discourses and narratives on Zimbabwe-China cooperation as win-win engagements, while the West and Zimbabwe’s private media have been sceptical, intimating that benefits have been skewed in favour of China bearing in mind Zimbabwe’s vulnerability in the face of limited options post land reform.

A Chinese state-owned company, Tian Ze, has since assumed a prominent status in Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector through its contract farming scheme and purchase of the country’s crop. This paper draws on the knowledge encounters framework in discussing the basis for the evolution of enhanced economic cooperation between the two countries and critically considers the current activities and power of Tian Ze and what influence the company could exert in the continued resurgence of Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Chinese Agricultural Expertise Support in Ethiopia: Approaches, Motives and Perspectives Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 114
Dawit Alemu, Seth Cook and Qi Gubo
February 2015

The Government of Ethiopia’s (GoE’s) economic growth strategy, Agriculture Development Led Industrialization (ADLI, formulated in 1991), places very high priority on accelerating agricultural growth and achieving food security. Agriculture is also a main focus of the current GoE’s Growth and Transformation Plan, as was also the case for its predecessors. The effort to modernise the agricultural sector, the GoE has been heavily investing in agricultural education, research and extension. Linked with such investment, the GoE duly considers the importance of technology and skill transfer from all over the world.

This paper documents the role of the different acts of cooperation between China and Ethiopia in ensuring the transfer of agricultural technology and knowledge in the process of agricultural modernisation in the country. It specifically assesses how these interventions are aligned with ongoing public programmes; how they are perceived by both locals and Chinese; what challenges and opportunities are emerging in achieving the objectives set in their design, especially in support of the Ethiopian agricultural extension system’s improvement; and what implications can be drawn for other development partners engaged in support of the Ethiopian agricultural sector.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf A study of Brazilian Trilateral Development Cooperation in Mozambique: The case of ProSAVANA and ProALIMENTOS Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 113
Natalia N. Fingerman
February 2015

The distribution of power in the international system has dramatically changed in the twenty-first century. Emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa have expanded their capacity of influence worldwide, shifting the balance of international organisations. A remarkable feature of the rise of these emerging countries has been their engagement in development assistance through South-South cooperation mechanisms and innovative aid modalities. In general, the limited literature around South-South cooperation and Trilateral Development Cooperation (TDC) is split into two antagonist perspectives: enthusiasts and sceptics.

In particular, no study has ever attempted to identify empirically the motivations, ideas, values and practices of all different actors involved during the implementation process, so ‘there is limited evidence on its impact and value from the recipient’s country perspective and whether or not it functions as an effective “partnership”. In order to narrow this gap, this research considers implementation as a complex social process, arguing that one must look at the ground of the implementation process to analyse whether TDC may reshape the architecture of development aid and what its impacts are on partners.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Chinese and Brazilian agricultural models in Mozambique. The case of the Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre and of the Brazilian ProALIMENTOS programme Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 112
Sérgio Chichava and Natalia N. Fingermann
February 2015

China and Brazil have called increasing attention from the international community, especially in the field of development cooperation. In Africa, for instance, both countries have expanded their development activities and defined agriculture as one of the main sectors to boost mutual cooperation. Recognising that agriculture played a key role in both China’s and Brazil’s economic development, these countries, usually called ‘emerging donors’ or ‘new donors’, state that unlike ‘traditional donors’ they will be able to bring their respective agriculture-based developmental experiences to African countries.

Although both countries stress how their own local experience may inspire African agriculture, it is important to highlight that the modalities and models of technology transfer might differ from one country to another. In order to understand how Chinese and Brazilian models and modalities play out in the African context, this study has examined and compared the activities of a Chinese and a Brazilian project carried out in the district of Boane in Mozambique. Due to cultural and communication issues, as well as managerial practices, the Chinese agricultural model is facing more difficulties in Mozambique than the Brazilian one, although the Chinese have more financial capacity to implement their agriculture-based experience.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Mozambican elite in a Chinese rice ‘friendship’: an ethnographic study of the Xai-Xai irrigation scheme Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 111
Sérgio Chichava
February 2015

In April 2007, the Mozambican and the Chinese governments through the Provinces of Gaza and Hubei respectively set up an agreement for the establishment of a Chinese ‘friendship’ rice farm at the Lower Limpopo scheme (also known as Xai-Xai irrigation scheme). Among the main objectives of this partnership was agricultural technology transfer from Chinese to Mozambican farmers. In order to benefit from this technology transfer, the Mozambican government asked local farmers to organise themselves within an association, named ARPONE. The association intended to develop agriculture and livestock.

However, it appeared that the main people who created the association and started to work alongside the Chinese company were mostly Frelimo members, the party ruling the country since its independence in 1975. In the same way, some high-up employees of Regadio do Baixo Limpopo (RBL), the public company in charge of the irrigation scheme, joined ARPONE and started to produce rice. It is important to stress that high state officials are usually linked to Frelimo. The main purpose of this paper, which focuses on the example of ARPONE association farmers in Xai-Xai, is to show how the Mozambican political elite – usually linked to Frelimo – are using their positions within the party or the state to take advantage of the Chinese project.  

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf Priests, technicians and traders? The discursive politics of Brazil’s agricultural cooperation in Mozambique Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 110
Lídia Cabral
February 2015

Questions such as whose interests drive Brazil into Africa, what development models are carried along and what is in them for African countries have been guiding research and debates about Brazil’s cooperation in Africa. This paper contributes to this emerging body of work by looking at the specific case of agricultural cooperation. The analysis highlights the discursive side of Brazilian cooperation, where competing narratives about models and purposes reproduce different versions of reality for reasons related to the political character of cooperation. Discourse is hence an expression of the political. One account frames Brazil’s agricultural cooperation as a domain of priests, technicians and traders, driven, respectively, by doctrinal, technical fixing and business rationales. This provides an initial frame of reference to distil actors’ narratives about cooperation programmes.

The paper focuses specifically on two cooperation initiatives in Mozambique: ProSavana and More Food International. The key for understanding competing narratives on these two programmes and how they intermingle and change over time can be found in Brazil’s domestic sphere. The two programmes have been interpreted as an expression of contradictions in Brazil’s agriculture and particularly its dualistic character, typically framed as family farming versus agribusiness. Through the lenses of discourse analysis, this paper offers a critical reading of the interplay between priests, technicians and traders, or different thrusts in cooperation relations. The interplay suggests that the terms of Brazil’s agriculture dualism need recasting. While the paper prioritises the discussion of how Brazil’s internal agricultural politics pervade the realm of development cooperation abroad, forthcoming research will reflect more extensively on why this happens.

This paper is part of our project on China and Brazil in African Agriculture.

pdf The Politics of Small-Scale Irrigation in Tanzania: Making Sense of Failed Expectations Popular

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Future Agricultures Working Paper 107
Anna Mdee with Elizabeth Harrison, Chris Mdee, Erast Mdee and Elias Bahati
September 2014

This working paper examines the dynamics of smallscale irrigation in two sites in Tanzania. It is an output from a wider project which explores how institutions for smallscale irrigation combine localised moral economies with national and international influences. The project seeks to understand how ‘external’ actors interact with ‘local’ norms, rules, moralities and politics, particularly in the context of climate change. It further asks how economic growth objectives can be reconciled with strengthened livelihoods and the resilience of diverse stakeholders.

The two study locations illuminate different aspects of the policy context for irrigation in Tanzania, where agriculture continues to provide employment for more than 80 percent of the population, but productivity remains poor and livelihoods are highly vulnerable. The latest policy initiatives aimed at developing agriculture such as Kilimo Kwanza suggest a significant role for irrigation in improving the productivity of agriculture, and will be crucial in attempts at commercialisation and growth.

Tanzanian irrigation policy shows a clear preference for the creation of large irrigation schemes to be managed by the private sector or by co-operatives of small farmers. ‘Traditional’ irrigation is only seen as desirable where it is ‘improved’ and formalised to fit within existing institutions of water management. To explore this policy context further, the study covers one location where irrigation is informal and ‘traditional’ but apparently improved by a change in technology, and one large irrigation scheme managed by a co-operative of small-scale farmers.

pdf Synthesis of Findings and Assessment of Gaps in Research and Policy: Urban Areas, Agriculture and Health Popular

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Working Paper 105
Lars Otto Naess, Abdulai Jalloh, Mbène Dièye Faye, Aboubakar Njoya and Harold Roy-Macauley

This report provides a synthesis of key headline findings from 12 regional reviews (see Annex 1) on research-policy linkages on adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The reviews covered three separate themes – urban areas, agriculture and health – in the four regions of West, Central, Southern and East Africa.

The reports set out to review the state of knowledge on research and policy, identifying gaps as well as opportunities for collaboration. The reviews were carried out as part of the AfricaInteract programme, aimed at helping to enhance the knowledge base and support research-based policy formulation for climate change adaptation throughout SSA. The goal of this report is to bring together key findings from the regional reviews, and to reflect on key gaps as well as opportunities for supporting evidence-based policy formulation for climate change adaptation across SSA.

pdf The role of the state and foreign capital in agricultural commercialisation: the case of sugarcane.. Popular

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Full title: The role of the state and foreign capital in agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane outgrowers in Kilombero District, Tanzania

Working Paper 106
Rebecca Smalley, Emmanuel Sulle and Lameck Malale

Since the launch of the Kilimo Kwanza (‘Agriculture First’) slogan in 2009, the Tanzanian government has been part of efforts to inject foreign capital into its country’s agricultural sector. A range of domestic and international players have developed plans to facilitate private acquisition of farmland; increase investment in irrigation and value addition; deepen the penetration of agribusiness; and bring more of Tanzania’s small-scale farmers into commercial agriculture, particularly through outgrower arrangements. The plans include the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor project (SAGCOT), a public–private partnership focused on Tanzania’s south-central region, and Big Results Now, which aims at achieving rapid progress in commercialisation and other agricultural policies in priority crops (Cooksey 2013). Sugar is a target sector.

One of the areas of Tanzania in which development is planned, the Kilombero Valley, already has a nucleus– outgrower sugarcane business. This working paper presents findings from a study of the sugarcane business in Kilombero. We argue that a dramatic but poorly planned expansion of the outgrower sector, combined with farmer services being transferred or reduced, has created wealth but also systemic weaknesses that are linked to falling returns for many outgrowers and a wider problem of land scarcity. The solution to these problems lies with the state, the company and associations of cane growers, as well as sugar industry regulatory institutions.

pdf Review of Research and Policy for Climate Change Adaptation in the Health Sector in East Africa Popular

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Working Paper 104
Andrew K. Githeko, Abdulai Jalloh, Hezron Mogaka
August 2014

This review examines the state of research on adaptation to climate change in the health sector in the East African region and identifies key research and policy gaps.

The review indicated that it is now generally accepted that some diseases are sensitive to climate change and variability, particularly malaria and Rift Valley fever. However, the health sector has been slow in linking climate change and variability to other diseases, perhaps because of less clear cause-effect relationships. The government led health sector is still operating in the disaster management mode instead of the disaster prevention mode. There is an urgent need for capacity to use climate information and to apply tools such as predictive and spatial models. Stakeholders’ involvement with research and policy is fragmented and lacks coherence. The absence of some key stakeholders such as the World Health Organization (WHO) in addressing climate change concerns in Africa has delayed the process of adaptation in the sector. It is recommended that a solid body of knowledge indicating the relationship between disease epidemiology, climate change and variability should be developed.

This review was undertaken under the auspices of the AfricaInteract project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).